Articles about Peony convention
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Monday, June 3, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Tour

It was a rainy day for the public garden tour of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. I guess it was better to have the hot sunny day for the personal garden tours than the rain. Save the rain for the public garden tour since you could in theory always visit it again later. There were a few APS members with umbrellas for the sun the day before, but many more members with umbrellas on this rainy day, plus ponchos and waterproof jackets to keep the rain at bay. The rain was steady, but at least it wasn't a downpour. Luckily, it was more of a light rain.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Entrance

Tree Peony 'Phoenix White' (Paeonia ostii)
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

We were able to find a few peonies in bloom at the Greater Des Moines Botanical garden. We found a nice size specimen of Tree Peony 'Phoenix White' (Paeonii ostii). However it was quite drenched, and someone even nicknamed it the "soggy princess". The delicate white petals of this tree peony were definitely soaked and slumped. Since spring was behind there in Iowa, only a few early blooming varieties were open. We did also find a nice little plant of Peony 'Pink Tea Cup' which seemed to be standing up to the rain quite well. The bright pink petals called to you from across the garden even in the rain.

Peony 'Pink Tea Cup'
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Bonsai Garden
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

There was also a fancy bonsai garden flanking the entrance to their conservatory. I had a nice time checking out those miniature trees. The oldest specimen in their collection was a Ginkgo biloba tree that was over 150 years old! That is quite an amazing feat. I've always wanted to grow a bonsai tree, but I don't think I have the daily dedication to do it since I've killed a few already. Maybe I just need a Ginkgo biloba! Ha ha! The conservatory of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden was a very nice surprise and a welcomed respite from the rain drops outside.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Conservatory

Succulents in the Conservatory
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Inside the conservatory were various colorful succulents, blooming tropicals, and nice size specimens of several varieties of palms. It was fun to explore, with some pop of color or exotic bloom right around the next corner. There was also a 2nd level around the edge of one side of the conservatory, which gave a nice view of the plant menagerie below. This garden also had a lovely gift shop, where I was able to purchase a couple of treasures for my children. There was also a pretty cool living plant wall at the front entrance/exit filled with a variety of tropical houseplants. Sitting next to it just made me feel alive (must have been all that extra oxygen! LOL

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Conservatory

APS Members & Living Plant Wall
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Sunday, June 2, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Garden Tours

I couldn't believe the change in temperatures from one day to the next. It was forecasted to be 88 degrees the day of the home garden tours in Iowa, but I'm pretty sure it made it to 90 degrees (or at least felt like it!). However we really need the warm temperatures to get the peonies and other flowers to open. Most of the gardens we toured had lots of "green" since the spring season was about a month behind. There were a few very early herbaceous peonies open and a couple tree peonies open, but most of the peonies in the gardens were in bud.

Cornbred Barbeque Lunch at Prairie Moon Winery

Prairie Moon Winery Lunch

The barbeque lunch we had at the local Prairie Moon Winery was very tasty. It was catered in from a food truck company that was opening their own restaurant there in Iowa called Cornbred Barbeque. There were ribs, pulled pork barbeque, macaroni and cheese, cucumber and tomato salad, jalapeño cornbread, and your choice of beverage from the winery bar. I thought the coolest things were the wooden forks and the plates made from fallen palm leaves! How creative and eco-friendly!

Girton House & Garden

Peony 'Nosegay' and Red Fernleaf Peony in Girton Garden

There were plenty of snacks at every garden. The homemade pies and cakes at the Girton garden were very delicious. I had to try the carrot cake since it didn't have raisins in it (just how I like it), and it was very delish! Everyone was vying for the shady spots since the Girton garden was mostly a full sun garden, and we were all melting. However they did have a nice assortment of teas and lemonades with ice to try to keep us cool! My favorite peony in bloom here was the double lavender P. Rockii, which reminded me of the lavender P. Rockii seedling in my own garden.

Shady Spot in the Girton Garden

Lavender P. Rockii at Girton Garden

The sun continued to be relentless even at the Jurik garden, but thankfully there was much more shade with many mature trees surrounding the house shading an extensive hosta collection. The fruit cups garnished with mint were a hit, as were the assortment of homemade cookies! People were able to find a few early blooming peonies open here too, as well as a few tree peonies. The APS ALM Committee was able to use the Jurik garden as a great training ground for their new judges during the 2019 American Peony Society Convention ALM Judges Training as well! All in all it was a great day! :-)

Tom & Kris Jurik House & Garden

Jurik Garden Extensive Hosta Collection

Saturday, June 1, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention in Ames, Iowa

2019 APS Convention Welcome Dinner
Gateway Hotel Waterfall Garden Patio

I couldn't believe how lovely the setting was the for 2019 American Peony Society Convention Welcome Dinner was. We had a beautiful outdoor patio filled with large tables, fine table settings with white and pale pink linens, pink cushioned chairs, and of course peonies on every table. The eating space was embellished with twin waterfalls (which I sat right next to!) surrounded by rock gardens that the children enjoyed playing on. We actually had 2 small ones at our APS Welcome Dinner this year, grandchildren of the APS Convention Co-Chairs.

2019 APS Convention Welcome Dinner
Treasurer & Convention Co-Chair, Kris
and Membership Chair, Linette

2019 APS Convention Welcome Dinner
Tim, Kent, Jody, & Kris

The weather was perfect for the outdoor meal, with nice spring temperatures, and blue skies. There was even a backdrop of pink blooming trees. We dined on deli sandwiches from the outdoor buffet. There was chicken salad, beef, or vegan wraps with chips and brownies for dessert. All of the food was delicious and the setting - gorgeous. All in all it was a great start to the annual APS festivities. I think everyone enjoyed chatting with their fellow APS members, friends old and new, with an air of excitement for the peony convention to come.

2019 APS Convention Welcome Dinner
Outdoor Deli Buffet

2019 APS Convention Welcome Dinner
Gateway Hotel Waterfall Garden Patio

Monday, May 27, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention ALM Judges Training

The 2019 American Peony Society Convention included an ALM (Award of Landscape Merit) Judges Training for any and all interested APS Members. An APS ALM judge should be a member that is active in the club, has a large and growing collection of peony cultivars, and has a thirst to help identify the very best peonies for the landscape. The training for APS judges kicked off the 2019 APS Convention on Wednesday afternoon with a 2 hour lecture/informational seminar to help familiarize potential judges with the goals of the American Peony Society Award of Landscape Merit program. We also learned the rating sections and criteria for awarding and deducting points when judging a cultivar.

2019 APS ALM Judges Training

The second half of the ALM Judges Training consisted of a field training in the garden of Kris Jurik. The judging exercise is intended to allow future ALM Judges to get hands on experience and guidance judging a cultivar, with the opportunity to ask questions and discuss potential point scoring. Once the group completes the guided garden judging of a peony plant, they are all asked to silently judge another peony plant in the garden on their own. The expert ALM Judges collect and review the scorecards for judging calibration. It was a hot day in the garden, but the new ALM Judges persisted through an almost 90 degree day to get firsthand experience, gain knowledge, and become proficient in judging peonies for the landscape.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'
2019 APS Gold Medal Winner

I could not have picked a better APS Gold Medal Winner than this year's 2019 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner - Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'. This peony was hybridized by Bill Seidl and registered by Bill Seidl and Nate Bremer in 2013. I'm wondering if this is the quickest awarded Gold Medal (in terms of registration date vs. award date). This one made it to APS Gold Medal status in just 6 years! When I first saw this peony (and discovered Solaris Farms in 2013) this tree peony was already sold out, but I just knew I had to have it (lavender being my favorite color and this thing being absolutely loaded with blooms on the web site photo). So I waited patiently for the next catalog and was able to order this one right away in 2014.

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'
2019 APS Gold Medal Winner

Ever since this Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' has graced my garden, it has been the best growing tree peony I have ever grown (and I've tried quite a few) and been named a Southern Peony Best Performer, 2018 Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' Best Performer - Week 3. I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Seidl during the 2016 APS Convention, 2016 Peony 'Dreamtime' Pollen from Bill Seidl's Garden. He died that same year. I only wish he'd lived long enough to see one of his beauties earn the Gold Medal. Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' has never failed to disappoint me, and it quite reliable and gorgeous every year. I hope you are able to snag one for yourself (if you don't already grow one)!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Convention Auction

Kop Tretheway's "Everything Peony Collection" Part 3

There were 113 items in the American Peony Society 2018 Annual Auction this year. The item with the highest bid of $240 went to a first edition copy of "The Book of the Peony" by Mrs. Edward (Alice) Harding. I would love to have a copy of this book, and a first edition would be even better, but $240 was a little too high for me. I hope the winning bidder enjoys the book! The lowest price item in the auction was $10 for 2 peony tea towels and some peony fabric. However there were also several peony roots that went for $15 and $20 as well (with shipping included) - which was quite the steal! If you have not yet been to an APS Convention, you are really missing out!

Michel Design Works Glass Peony Tray
Kop Tretheway's "Everything Peony Collection" Part 3

I won three items in the auction this year. Peony 'Allan Rogers' is the first item, which is a white double peony, grown from a seedling from Bill Siedl, but I see now that it is a short plant. Since short plants don't usually grow very well for me, I'm not sure how it is going to do here. So we'll see about that one. The second item is Peony 'KC Red', a rare find that is also a new registration for 2018, a red tree double peony registered by Seidl/Bremer. This tree peony is supposedly very beautiful and very fertile, so hopefully a good plant for breeding. The third item (and my favorite) is a set of peony bath items donated by Kent Tretheway. These items belonged to his late wife, Kop Tretheway - what a nice way to honor her memory. The lot I won was entitled, Kop Tretheway's "Everything Peony Collection" Part 3. It included a Michel Design Works glass peony tray/soap dish, Michel Design Works peony hand creams, and Michel Design Works peony coasters. There was also a bar of Castelbel peony soap. As you can see I am already putting the glass tray to good use - as a jewelry tray, and I love it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Convention Banquet

2018 APS Banquet Coffee & Dessert
Lemon Blueberry Bars

The best thing about the American Peony Society Banquet this year? Dessert! We had scrumptious bars of lemon, blueberry (and maybe cream cheese?) for dessert this year, and they were delicious! I (unfortunately) had to help myself to two of them! Yum! Dinner was tasty as well with salmon, beef, green leaf salad, fingerling potatoes, rice with onions, and baby broccoli. It seemed everyone enjoyed the meal (and dessert) while we listened in on the annual APS Member Meeting. Our outgoing President, Scott Parker, conducted the meeting. Several new APS Directors were nominated and elected. The results of the APS Flower Exhibtion were announced, and all of the rosette ribbons were presented to each recipient in person.

2018 APS Banquet Buffet

Adelman Peony Gardens
Wins 2018 APS Sweepstakes Award

Jim and Carol Adelman of Adelman Peony Gardens won the 2018 APS Sweepstakes Award this year, which is awarded to the entrant with the most blue ribbons in the entire show. They won 29 blue 1st Place Ribbons. They also earned rosettes for Reserve Champion (blue/light blue ribbon) for Peony 'Old Faithful', Allan Rogers Memorial Award (red/white ribbon), Best Intersectional Award (yellow/white ribbon), and the Ben Gowen Memorial Award (green/light green ribbon). I'd love to see their award wall after they've finished framing all of their ribbons! Therese Sprauer of Brooks Gardens won the Grand Champion rosette ribbon for 2018 Peony 'Lavon' APS 2018 Best in Show.
APS Rosette Ribbons
More than a Handful!
Jim & Carol Adelman
Look Very Happy!

Scott Parker, APS President, Looks on as Carol Adelman
Presents Linette Sorrentino
with the Bertrand H. Farr Lifetime Achievement Award

Another great personal award was presented during the APS Banquet to Linette Sorrentino for her "years of unmatched and exemplary" service to the APS especially in the areas of "floral exhibitions, fund raising, educational programs and workshops, ... mentorship of new members, and her promotion of Paeonia". Linette seemed very surprised and emotionally touched when her award was announced, even sharing a hug with the presenter, Carol Adelman. What a sweet moment!

Carol and Linette Share a Hug

Carol Reads the Inscription
of the Lifetime Achievement Award

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018 First Time Entrant, Mike Miller, Sweeps APS Peony Floral Arrangement Competition

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion

Much to my (and everyone else's) surprise, a first time exhibitor in the Artistic Design section won all 3 Artistic Design Rosette ribbons awarded in the American Peony Society 2018 Flower Exhibition. That winner is Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm in Ohio. He's no rookie to the APS Flower Exhibition, but this is his first foray into the design competition. I took the opportunity to speak with him about his artistic floral design winnings.

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Grand Champion

How did it feel to win all 3 APS rosette ribbons in the Artistic Design peony floral arrangement categories (Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, and Best Novice Design)?

"Finding out that I had won all of the top 3 design awards was exciting and embarrassing at the same time. I was happy to win but also embarrassed that I took the awards away from others that had been competing for several years."

Were you surprised to find out that you won?

"I was very surprised when I first learned of receiving the top honors."

How does it encourage you in your peony growing and exhibitions?

"I am encouraged to try entering again in future conventions. This was my first year to enter the design classes. In a normal year I am too busy entering peonies in the commercial division classes and have never had enough time to do any designing. I was not able to take peonies this year to enter and therefore allowed me the time to enter the design classes. I am looking forward to a balance in future shows of entering peonies in their classes and doing more of the design classes."

APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion
"Tilikum Crossing"

Mike is so humble and so deserving. It really speaks to his creativity and attention to detail with the materials he used and the planning he put into creating on-point designs for each of the categories he entered. Mike told me that he visited a local thrift store after arriving in Oregon to find the containers and design elements for each of his arrangements. With the design categories in mind, he carefully selected pieces and accents that would fit each theme. Each year the APS creates categories with themes from the Exhibtion's locale. This year was no different, with each category reflecting features of Portland, Oregon.

Mike's "Tilikum Crossing" entry is anchored by two metal vases of varying height, mirroring Portland's Tilikum Crossing bridge's two towers. It also incorporates woody materials at the top of the arrangement emulating the bridge's cables and a ribbon connecting the two towers to form the "bridge". His "Tilikum Crossing" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion rosette ribbon (the 2nd highest design award in the show).

APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award
"Union Station"

Mike's "Union Station" entry (my favorite) was anchored by a clock vase, just as Portland's Union Station is anchored by a towering clock tower, perfect! The use of color in this design is what really draws me to this entry, and of course all of the intersectional peonies don't hurt either! His "Union Station" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award rosette ribbon.

Mike's "Pittock Mansion" entry was by far the largest and grandest entry on the show table - the scale and grandeur of the design definitely befitting a mansion. Even the vase was perfect - the intricrate, gilded design of the large vase belonged in the grand home of a wealthy industrialist investor. His "Pittock Mansion" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Grand Champion rosette ribbon (the highest design award in the show). Congratulations, Mike!

APS Artistic Design Grand Champion
"Pittock Mansion"

Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Peony 'Lavon' APS 2018 Best in Show

Peony 'Lavon'
American Peony Society 2018 Best In Show
Grand Champion

When the results for the Best in Show flower were revealed after the 2018 American Peony Society Judges Select Court of Honor and Best In Show, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding the peony that won the highest honor of the peony exhibition. The award went a home-state exhibitor, Brooks Gardens of of Brooks, Oregon. The hybridizer of the peony also happened to be at the show, Don Hollingsworth. So it was a great win for both! I decided to talk with both of them about what having Peony 'Lavon' win Best in Show meant to each of them. Here's what they said...

Don Hollingsworth Hybridizer of Peony 'Lavon'
(named after his wife Lavon)
and Kent Tretheway, Lavon's Son

Questions for Don Hollingsworth:

How did it feel to have your Peony 'Lavon' honored as the Best In Show flower at this year's APS Convention?

"I was and am pleased. While I have known for decades that peony ‘Lavon’ is capable of making a flower which could rightly be named Best in Show, this is the first time it ever happened. And I must add: this flower winning is remarkable in that it was scarcely half the size and fullness of which ‘Lavon’ is capable. And, I am not second guessing the judges in these remarks. When competent judges do their job, flower condition (freshness, crispness) and symmetry of its anatomy are key considerations and this Best of Show flower was strong among the competition on both counts."

Were you surprised to find out that it won?

"Yes, because that was the first I was aware an entry of ‘Lavon’ had even been staged. I was not tapped for the judging, and my previous partial tour of the staged entries was focused on the hybrids classes and the floral designs, taking pictures. After judging was completed, I happened to enter the room by way of the door near where the Court of Honor was staged. Yes, it was the best possible series of events for me to be not only surprised, but pleasantly so."

How does it encourage you in your hybridizing?

"It reminded me that for years I have been wishing (and trying again and again) to find pollen in current flowers of ‘Cytherea’, which is the pollen parent of ‘Lavon’, also its seven siblings and half-siblings which have earned name registration here."

Therese Sprauer of Brooks Gardens
Accepting her Best In Show Ribbon
for her Peony 'Lavon' Show Flower

Questions for Therese Sprauer:

How did it feel to have your Peony 'Lavon' honored as the Best In Show flower at this year's APS Convention?

"Thank you for asking - it's always a thrill to compete. I really like encouraging others to do the same. I often hear how some growers and gardeners feel intimidated by such huge competition and I hope to encourage all gardeners and growers to bring even a few flowers to enter."

"I was thrilled and honored to learn 'Lavon' was awarded Best in Show/Grand Champion at the 2018 American Peony Society floral exhibit. With such strong competition, it is an absolute joy to learn one of your entries dazzled at the right moment. To share the victory with Don Hollingsworth, the hybridizer, made it even sweeter!"

"A huge thank you to the APS; the many volunteers who tagged and placed entries; and, to our Brooks Gardens team, whose work on the farm allowed me time to select, cut and store peony buds for entry."

Were you surprised to find out that it won?

"The day before the exhibit, I was in the field telling my flower cutter, Rita, that she could now cut any flowers for bouquets, as I was done gathering buds for competition. I then literally snatched two flowers out of her hand and said " Except I will take these two 'Lavon's' to enter in competition tomorrow - they look perfect." I was in a bit of disbelief when I heard that it was, in fact, a 'Lavon' that won - one of the last entries placed on the tables."

How does it encourage you in your peony growing and exhibitions?

"To see a showroom filled with hundreds of beautiful peonies is breathtaking and rewarding to all participants and visitors. I encourage all peony growers and gardeners to participate in the APS floral exhibit. No matter the level of excitement or anxiety one experiences along the way from field to exhibit table, I remind myself and others, 'it only takes one flower'. That's important to remember when you see hundreds, or even thousands of flowers brought in to the prep areas for entry selection. Bring your flowers next year and join in the fun!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Judges Select Court of Honor and Best In Show

APS Judges Select Grand Champion / Best In Show

American Peony Society 2018 Court of Honor

After what probably seems like forever for all of the APS Members and members of the public patiently waiting outside the Exhibition room, the judges finalize their class decisions, everything is recorded, and the final judging to select the American Peony Society 2018 Exhibition Court of Honor is completed. All of the hard work from all of the show participants, volunteers, and Exhibition Co-Chairs - the transportation of flowers to the show, the prepping and tagging of peony specimens, the classifying of flowers, the judging of each class, the recording of awardees, and the placement of ribbons - is finally realized, resulting in the Court of Honor. The whole thing is like a symphony with the Exhibition Co-Chairs, David and Linette, serving as the conductors. The exhibitors, volunteers, and judges are the musicians who carefully play their instruments, the peonies. The Exhibition Chairs skillfully conduct this floral symphony, which each phase of the exhibition carefully played as if a movement in a sonata. When the flower show opens, we have reached the finale! The doors of the Exhibition Room are thrown open, and everyone is invited inside to find out who's won, to see what curious new peonies on the entry tables pique their interest, and chat with all of the fellow peony enthusiasts about our favorite flower!

Photo Collage
American Peony Society 2018
Reserve Champion, Grand Champion, Best Novice

Peony 'Pastelegance'
Best White / Blush / Yellow Hybrid
Peony 'Theresa Ann'
Best Pink Lutea Hybrd
Peony 'Sonoma YeDo'
Best Intersectional
Best Yellow / Yellow Blend Intersectional
Peony 'Marchioness'
Best Yellow Lutea Hybrid
Peony 'Kansas'
Best Red Lactiflora
Peony 'Bowl of Cream'
Best White Lactiflora
Peony 'Class Act'
Best Blush Lactiflora
Peony 'Angel Choir'
Best White Suffruticosa
Peony 'Ezra Pound'
Best Pink Suffruticosa
Peony 'Raspberry Charm'
Best Pink / Coral Hybrid
Peony 'Old Faithful'
Reserve Champion
Best Red Hybrid
Peony 'Lavon'
Best In Show
Grand Champion
Best Pink Lactiflora
Peony 'Boreas'
Best Novice
Best Red Lutea Hybrid